Ever wanted to be an artist? Here's how you can!

These Melbourne art classes are all the fun of an artist’s studio with none of the mess – or the stress. Alice Oehr can teach anyone to create a masterpiece on an iPad Pro and if you make a mistake, no sweat - just ‘undo’!

A woman wearing a red top and headphones draws on an iPad using a stylus.
  • Lisa Marie Corso
  • October 2019

David Hockney is an 82-year-old acclaimed British artist with work on display in Tate Britain in London and I’m a 30-year-old woman with a primary school painting gathering dust next to the tool drawer in my parents’ garage. Despite our differences, we’ve been brought together by iPad art.

David pioneered this digital art form (where a tablet becomes the canvas) in his seventies. Melbourne artist Alice Oehr is swaps paper for an iPad, teaching people how to do it in her fortnightly digital still-life drawing classes.

In the quiet backstreets of Collingwood, Alice hosts her still-life workshops opens in new window at independent gallery Lamington Drive (Classes are AUD $23.24 or cheaper if you bring your own iPad). Classes are capped at 20 students, who congregate around a styled vignette of objects that Alice curates to a specific theme. It’s a really unique way to take in the culture of Melbourne.

A digital still life of a cheese platter.
Some of the artworks look good enough to eat (errr... almost)!

This week, the theme is pots and we’re drawing a selection from Alice’s personal collection of decorative vases, vessels and pots, including a rooster-shaped water jug with ceramic feathers that intimidate the novice artists in the room like myself. Alice is quick to offer reassurance and says her class is for everyone. A glance around the room proves she’s telling the truth: there’s a nine-year-old, a bunch of millennials as well as older artists.

Every student is given an iPad Pro and for the duration of the two-hour lesson, Alice teaches us how to draw using a digital illustration app called Procreate. She takes us through the software incrementally and as we master each step (how to add coloured backgrounds, use various brush strokes, add layers and so forth), she moves on and teaches us something new.

 

Before we know it, our blank screens are artworks and the entire illustrative process recorded as a digital animation. With great pride, we send our efforts to our phones via Bluetooth and leave the class with an original artwork in our pockets. All ready to send to the Tate.